The Accidental Duchess: From Farmer's Daughter to Belvoir Castle - Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland

The Accidental Duchess: From Farmer's Daughter to Belvoir Castle - Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland

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Life in a castle isn’t always a fairytale, as the Duchess of Rutland reveals in her charming, funny and eye-opening autobiography.

Never in her wildest dreams did Emma Watkins, a Welsh farmer’s daughter, imagine she would marry into the aristocracy but then she fell in love with David Manners, heir to the duchy of Rutland, and found herself in a strange and glamorous new world. When David inherited the dukedom, Emma became chatelaine of Belvoir Castle, with its illustrious history, 225 rooms (one full of chamber pots) and some particularly unfriendly ghosts.

She also had to cope with five young children, an estate in need of modernisation and staff who didn't want anything to change. The Duchess of Devonshire gave her sound advice, there were karaoke nights with Elizabeth Hurley and Hugh Grant - but she was also caught in her nightie by 30 Texan tourists, had to climb onto the leaking castle roof in a storm to clear the gutters and disguised herself as a cleaner to snoop on the filming of The Crown. And when her marriage broke down, she would have to draw on all her strength to protect her family and find herself again.

Vividly written, The Accidental Duchess takes us on an entertaining and at times moving journey with a remarkable woman.


Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess of Rutland is the daughter of a farmer from Knighton, Powys. Today, the Duchess runs the commercial activities of Belvoir Castle, including shooting parties, weddings and a range of furniture. She has presented on various television programmes, including ITV's Castles, Keeps and Country Homes, and has produced a book about Belvoir Castle. Watkins married David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland, in 1992. They separated in 2012 but continue to cohabitate. The pair have five children.



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